|Died||2020 (aged 63–64)|
Paulette Wilson (1956-23 July 2020) was a British activist, who fought her own deportation to Jamaica and brought media attention to the human rights violations of the Windrush scandal.
Wilson was born in Jamaica in 1956 and was sent by her mother to Britain when she was ten years old. Raised by her grandparents, in Wellington, Telford she attended primary and secondary school in Britain. She worked as a cook, at one time in the House of Commons restaurant, raised a family, and paid British taxes for 34 years. In 2015, Wilson received notification from the government that she was an illegal immigrant and was required to leave the UK. Her housing and health care benefits were stopped; she became homeless and was denied the right to work. By 2017, Wilson was facing deportation. She had not returned to Jamaica for 50 years, but was arrested twice, detained in Yarlswood Detention Centre and sent to the deportation centre at Heathrow Airport in October 2017. The Refugee and Migrant Centre of Wolverhampton persuaded her MP, Emma Reynolds, to stop the deportation at the last minute to allow her more time to appeal to the Home Office.
Media coverage of her situation and her 2 1/2 year fight with the Home Office to gain recognition of her legal status in the UK, brought forward other victims, and highlighted the 2012 policies implemented by Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary, which led to the Windrush scandal.
Under the terms of the British Nationality Act 1948, Wilson and tens of thousands of migrants from the Caribbean and other British colonies arrived in England as citizens of the British empire. Children were admitted to the UK, legally on their parents' passport and no later proof of their legal status was issued ordinarily. They were granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 1971, but
Assisted by a caseworker from the Refugee and Migrant Centre, Wilson gathered documentation to prove that she had resided in England for 50 years and had been wrongly categorised by the Home Office. In 2018, she was officially granted leave to remain. Having settled her own case, Wilson became an activist and fought for the rights of other immigrants facing similar situations. In 2019, a documentary produced by Shanida Scotland for The Guardian included Wilson's story along with other victims of the Windrush scandal. In June 2020, Wilson, along with other activists delivered a petition containing 130,000 signatures to Downing Street calling on the government to resolve the outstanding issues and compensation claims of the victims of the scandal.
Wilson died on 23 July 2020 in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. Her decision to go public with the issues she was facing with the Home Office is considered pivotal to the exposure of the human rights issues in the change of the immigration policy of the UK.
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